WHL Roundup: Raiders double up Oil Kings Wednesday to improve playoff odds

Terran Station/Fragment Media


Lethbridge Hurricanes (2) at Moose Jaw Warriors (6)
Lethbridge (32-28-6-0) // Moose Jaw (49-14-1-2)

Jayden Halbgewachs (San Jose Sharks) had another monster night for the Moose Jaw Warriors as they became the first WHL team to surpass the 100-point milestone this season in a 6-2 win over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Halbgewachs recorded a hat trick with goals 62, 63, and 64 on the season while also adding a pair of assists for the five-point game.

The entirety of the scoring for the first period came in the opening seven minutes with four goals put on the board. Brandon Schuldhaus opened the scoring 37 seconds into the contest with his eighth of the season, followed at the 4:07 mark into by Halbgewachs’ first of the night.

Taylor Ross would put the Hurricanes on the board 6:49 into the opening period, but just 11 seconds after that, Justin Almeida restored the three-goal lead with his 39th of the season while the Warriors were short-handed.

The second period featured another short-handed goal, but in Lethbridge’s favour, as Dylan Cozens broke out alone and made a slick move on Brody Willms for his 22nd of the season. With the Warriors’ lead down to one, Halbgewachs would take matters into his own hands to restore the two-goal lead to close out the scoring in the middle frame.

The third period featured goals from captain Brett Howden (New York Rangers) and Halbgewachs’ hat trick goal while Willms stopped all 10 Hurricanes’ shots in the final 20 minutes to confirm his 34th victory of the season.

Almeida and Howden each had a goal and an assist in the game while both Josh Brook (Montreal Canadiens) and Tristin Langan each had a pair of assists. Kale Clague (Los Angeles Kings), Ryan Peckford, and Tanner Jeannot each contributed a single assist in the victory.

Calen Addison, captain Jordy Bellerive, and Brad Morrison had the assists for Lethbridge in the loss while Logan Flodell stopped 33 of 39 shots.

The result kept the Warriors ahead of the Swift Current Broncos by a single point for first in the Eastern Conference and East Division. The loss kept the Hurricanes six points back of the division-leading Medicine Hat Tigers in the Central.

Edmonton Oil Kings (2) at Prince Albert Raiders (4)
Edmonton (19-40-6-2) // Prince Albert (30-25-9-2)

Winning seven games in a row between late February and early March can do wonders for a team’s playoff chances as the Prince Albert Raiders have found out in recent weeks.

The Raiders continued their winning ways Wednesday at home against the Edmonton Oil Kings, doubling them up by a 4-2 score to aid their ascent up the standings.

It was the Oil Kings starting strong with goals from David Kope and captain Colton Kehler while the Raiders relied on a Regan Nagy goal to keep them behind by a single goal after 20 minutes.

Goals 14 seconds apart from Raiders captain Curtis Miske and Max Martin early in the second quickly flipped the script of the game though. The lone goal of the third period came from Parker Kelly (Ottawa Senators) as the Raiders reached the 30-win mark.

After allowing two goals on five shots in the first, Ian Scott (Toronto Maple Leafs) stopped all 10 shots sent his way over the final two periods. Josh Dechaine stopped 26 of 30 in the loss.

Cole Fonstad added a pair of assists to continue the 2018 NHL Draft prospect’s impressive season. The Raiders finished with the edge in the season series, going 3-1 in the four-game set.

With the win, the Raiders remained in the second wild card spot, but are now four points up on the Saskatoon Blades and four points behind the Brandon Wheat Kings for the first wild card spot.

Calgary Hitmen (2) at Swift Current Broncos (3)
Calgary (20-36-8-2) // Swift Current (47-14-4-2)

The Swift Current Broncos and Calgary Hitmen once again played a tight game, but the Broncos eventually prevailed to keep pace with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Eastern Conference race Wednesday.

Aleksi Heponiemi (Florida Panthers) had a three-point game, including scoring the game-winner in the third period as the Broncos improved to 7-1-1-1 in their last 10.

The game got off to a rocky start for the Broncos as Jakob Stukel (Vancouver Canucks) opened the scoring with his 35th of the season, but Tyler Steenbergen (Arizona Coyotes) responded early in the second with his 45th of the season to even the score.

Broncos’ captain Glenn Gawdin (Calgary Flames) gave the Broncos their first lead of the game with 2:19 left in the period, but the Hitmen would have a response from the stick of Tristen Nielsen in the closing seconds to keep things even after 40 minutes.

It wouldn’t take long to find the deciding goal in the third as Heponiemi found the back of the net 139 seconds into the final period. Colby Sissons (New Jersey Devils) and Andrew Fyten each had an assist for the Broncos as well.

Stuart Skinner (Edmonton Oilers) stopped all eight Hitmen shots in the third to finish with a 26-save victory. Nick Schneider (Calgary Flames) had 35 saves on 38 shots in the loss.

The win kept the Broncos one point back of the Warriors for first place in the Eastern Conference and East Division.

Portland Winterhawks (7) at Prince George Cougars (1) 
Portland (42-20-1-4) // Prince George (23-36-4-4)

The Portland Winterhawks closed out their season series against the Prince George Cougars with an offensive explosion at the CN Centre Wednesday.

Skyler McKenzie (Winnipeg Jets) scored his 43rd of the season on the power play, 44th of the season while short-handed and 45th of the season at even strength for his second career WHL hat trick.

Fort St. John, B.C. product Connor Bowie gave the Cougars a moment of celebration in the first as he opened the scoring 2:32 into the game with his first career WHL goal, but the Winterhawks quickly took over offensively as Henri Jokiharju (Chicago Blackhawks) scored his ninth of the season to keep the game tied after 20 minutes.

McKenzie scored his first two goals of the game in the second and Lukus MacKenzie added his second of the season on a beautiful between-the-legs play late in the period to establish a three-goal cushion after 40 minutes.

Goals from Lane Gilliss, Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders), and McKenzie’s hat trick goal featured in the third as the exclamation point on the two-game mid-week series. Cody Glass (Vegas Golden Knights) added three assists while Jokiharju and Gilliss each added an assist to their goals for the multi-point effort.

It was a relatively light night for Cole Kehler (Los Angeles Kings), who stopped 18 of 19 shots for his 28th victory of the season. Taylor Gauthier and Isaiah DiLaura faced a 53-shot barrage from Portland, finishing with 25 and 21 saves respectively.

The Winterhawks and Everett Silvertips have now played 67 games each with Portland trailing by three points.

Vancouver Giants (4) at Kelowna Rockets (3) – OT
Vancouver (34-23-6-3) // Kelowna (38-22-5-2)

Playing from behind or tied for most of the game, the Vancouver Giants picked up a resilient 4-3 overtime victory in the Okanagan Wednesday against the Kelowna Rockets.

An early goal from Erik Gardiner put the Giants in a hole, but Owen Hardy’s 11th of the season tied the game up after 20 minutes. Early in the second, Ty Ronning (New York Rangers) scored on the power play to put the Giants ahead, but the 41st and 42nd goals of the season from Carsen Twarynski (Philadelphia Flyers) helped the Rockets regain the lead after 40 minutes.

Searching for the game-tying goal until the late moments of the third, the Giants were rewarded with Alex Kannok Leipert’s fifth of the season to force overtime, followed by the 24th goal of the season by captain Tyler Benson (Edmonton Oilers), his 10th career game-winning goal 3:56 into the extra period.

David Tendeck stopped 35 of 38 shots to help secure Vancouver’s victory. James Porter stopped 32 of 36 shots in the losing effort.

In his 200th career WHL game, Rockets forward Kole Lind (Vancouver Canucks) picked up a pair of assists to help him set a new career-high for points in a single season with 89. Brayden Watts had a pair of assists in Vancouver’s victory.

The win brought the Giants to within three points of the Victoria Royals for second in the B.C. Division with two games in-hand on the Royals. The Rockets earned a single point to extend their lead in the B.C. Division to three points.

Spokane Chiefs (5) at Victoria Royals (2) 
Spokane (39-22-3-2) // Victoria (37-25-4-2)

The Spokane Chiefs earned a split in their regular season series with the Victoria Royals Wednesday, dropping their hosts by a 5-2 score in British Columbia’s capital.

Eli Zummack scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and finished with three points while Hudson Elynuik (Carolina Hurricanes) had a goal and three points himself.

Luke Toporowski scored his 10th of the season for the only goal of the first period, but Tyler Soy (Anaheim Ducks) struck back with the only goal of the second to keep the game tied heading to the third. The Chiefs struck first in the third as Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers) and Zummack found the back of the net before Soy tallied his second of the contest.

Empty-net goals from Zummack and Elynuik featured in the late stages of the contest to provide more of a difference on the scoreboard.

Dawson Weatherill stopped 27 of 29 shots for the victory. Griffen Outhouse stopped 26 of 29 in the loss.

Ty Smith added a pair of assist in the victory while Jake McGrew (San Jose Sharks) also earned an assist in the contest. Toporowski added an assist to his goal for the multi-point effort. Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks) and Royals’ captain Matthew Phillips (Calgary Flames) had the assists for Victoria in the contest.

The win kept the Chiefs mathematically alive in the chase for the U.S. Division crown while also extending their lead over the first wild card seed Tri-City Americans to 10 points.

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